Name: John A. Girard
Position title: Vice President – Development, Area General Manager – Hong Kong and General Manager of Regal Airport Hotel
Company name: Regal Hotels
When and why did you join the industry?
I came to Hong Kong in 1971 to help open The Excelsior hotel in Causeway Bay Hong Kong. I have been working in the hotel industry for nearly 50 years, in Hong Kong from 1971-1975 and again from 1987-2015 and with Regal Hotels since 2009.
What do you like most about your job?
Its fun! If you are not enjoying your job you should not be doing what you are doing!
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
Passionate and devoted international hotelier whose career in the hotel industry has taken me all over the world; from my native Malta to Indonesia, Malaysia, England, Switzerland, Italy, Kuwait, Dubai, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Guyana (South America) and Australia for International chains such as Hyatt International, Holiday Inns, Beaufort International, Forte Hotels, Rank Hotels and Sino Hotels and Regal International Hotels. Currently the Vice President Development, Area General Manager Hong Kong for Regal Hotels International and General Manager of Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong
Having lived and worked in many countries I became very flexible and adapt very well to different cultures and customs. Most importantly, to manage an hotel in achieving its targets and goals, with great understanding of what five-star service really is and belief in ongoing, continuous passionate training.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
My boss of many years, Michael Kalyk, told me “You can’t keep on making excuses to the guest, you must have a LIVE training initiative, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, or else you are not going to make it in this industry, particularly with guest expectations being so high today”. He was right!
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
A role model must have the most sincere attitude, enthusiasm, and must be known for being a successful change agent with the right enthusiastic professional approach on supporting colleagues and the management team always being a strong training advocate. Michael Kalyk was such a professional.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
Numerous development plans are in the pipeline for the Regal Hotels International group in overseas markets including China and Europe, the potential for career development is very promising.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
I’ve always wanted to travel to… Antarctica, Canada, Russia and extensively in India
This summer I will be visiting Turkey to experience its richly historical culture boasting some of the best cuisine on the planet, its scenery, from magnificent beaches to mountains and the great city of Istanbul and some of the world’s most precious historical ruins, artefacts and most beautiful Mosques.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
My favourite venue is… San Gemignano, in Tuscany. My hometown Malta is also not too bad and are like nowhere else with great prehistoric temples, fossil-studded cliffs, glittering hidden coves, thrilling hidden beaches and warm vibrant people.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
A lonely planet travel guide, my best friend and an adventurous spirit !
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
I really wish I had… spent more time in New Zealand and stayed more than 2 years in Australia!
If I could invite four people to a dinner party, they’d be… Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis and Michelle Pfeiffer – out of those four, I’d love to travel with Michelle!!
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
We expect travellers to become more demanding; there will be huge needs for more connectivity and Regal has taken this on board by offering free Wi-Fi for all guests booking through our Regal Hotels website. Lobby areas also offer free Wi-Fi access. Mobile services are emerging and connectivity will become smoother and faster and our Millennials will put more pressure on Hoteliers to push the envelope and offer new and creative added value.
At the Regal Airport hotel we now have airline check-in systems in our lobby so people can get their boarding passes there. We are excited to share that Regal Airport Hotel, became the first airport hotel in Hong Kong to introduce a brand new built-in high-definition LED wall (9m X 4m) at the city’s largest pillar-free grand ballroom in early June. With this latest installation, guests can now enjoy a more stunning visual experience for all kinds of functions.
Last but not least, customer feedback remains the lifeblood of any service industry and for Regal Hotels we continue to make use of it as a source for actively enhancing service delivery, guest satisfaction and to position our hotel to remain guest centric in the future.
John A. Girard, Vice President – Development, Regal Hotels